Valuable old historical newspapers include Dewey Defeats Truman, the Pearl Harbor attack, Al Capone, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the John F. Kennedy assassination, the sinking of the Titanic, the Lincoln assassination and the San Francisco earthquake.
Old newspapers have value in the collectibles marketplace. Attracting the greatest attention are the vintage papers with the big historical headlines. Also of interest are your regular newspapers – called "atmosphere" papers – which contain no significant events of the day but do provide a glimpse into a bygone era.
Here are ten valuable newspapers featuring some of history's most famous headlines. They are an eclectic bunch, giving readers a general idea as to collectibility and values. Bear in mind that condition plays a major role in determining value and that newspapers must be original, and not reprints.
Chicago Daily Tribune, November 3, 1948, Dewey Defeats Truman
The 1948 presidential election, as predicted by opinion polls, projected Thomas A. Dewey the victor. During the wee hours of the night on November 2, 1948, after voting had ceased, the Chicago Daily Tribune rushed this famous headline into print in the midst of a typesetter's strike. Later, after realizing their error, the Trib sent its employees out into the streets to retrieve as many copies as possible. The Tribune was not the only newspaper to get it wrong – just the most infamous – with President Harry S. Truman gleefully posing with the paper's embarrassing "Dewey Defeats Truman" banner headline. In excellent condition, one surviving example of this paper – bearing the stamp "Hickey Brothers Cigar Store" where it was sold – brought a top bid of $1,392.
Chicago Daily Tribune, Dewey Defeats Truman $1,392 - Robert Edward Auctions, LLC
The Stars and Stripes, May 8, 1945, Nazis Quit
The Stars and Stripes serves as the unofficial publication for the U.S. Armed Forces. An EXTRA for the European Theater of Operations, Germany edition, dated May 8, 1945, announcing Nazi Germany's official surrender is valued at approximately $215.
The New York Herald, April 15, 1865, Assassination of President Lincoln
Lincoln assassination newspapers are always in demand. One of the most famous is the April 15, 1865, edition of The New York Herald reporting on the death of the 16th President of the United States. Not surprisingly, this edition was saved by many people. Today, it carries a value of over $1,000 in excellent condition.
The New York Herald, Lincoln assassinated $1,000+ - historybuff.com
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, December 7, 1941, War! Oahu Bombed By Japanese Planes
One of the most famous newspapers of World War II, the first extra of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of December 7, 1941, reports the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor. A complete edition in excellent condition could top the $1,500 mark. Reprints abound for this coveted issue, including ones made during the war and taken home as souvenirs by American servicemen.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor $750-1,500 - gohawaii.about.com
The Boston Daily Globe, April 16, 1912, Titanic Sinks, 1500 Die
In the annals of maritime disasters the loss of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York heads the tragic list. A number of Titanic newspapers were printed, with the first report editions carrying the most value. The April 16, 1912, edition of The Boston Daily Globe is worth approximately $200-400.
The Call-Chronicle-Examiner, April 19, 1906, Earthquake And Fire: San Francisco In Ruins
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 remains one of the worst natural disasters in American history. The San Francisco Call-Chronicle-Examiner – a collective effort by the city's three wounded newspapers – dated April 19, 1906, is a rare periodical. A complete edition could sell for over $700.
The Call-Chronicle-Examiner, San Francisco earthquake $700+ - Library of Congress
The Dallas Times Herald, November 22, 1963, JFK Ambushed in Dallas, President Dead, Connally Shot
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy has been called the crime of the century. JFK assassination newspapers are legion, as they were saved by many people as historical keepsakes. The most valuable editions are titles from Dallas, Texas, the scene of the crime in infamous Dealey Plaza. The Dallas Times Herald final edition of November 22, 1963, is highly collectible, with a complete edition in excellent or better condition valued at $50-75.
Fitchburg Sentinel, May 21, 1927, Lindbergh Is Reported Over Channel
Aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh's historic transatlantic flight in 1927 is the stuff of legend. The Fitchburg (Massachusetts) Sentinel of May 21, 1927, reported that Lindbergh in his Spirit of St. Louis had been sighted over the English Channel, bound for Paris. This ten-page edition is worth approximately $140.
The Macon Telegraph and News, October 16, 1931, Al Capone Guilty of Evading Taxes
In 1931 Al Capone, the czar of the Chicago underworld, was convicted of income tax evasion. Capone received an 11-year sentence, eventually winding up on Alcatraz. The Macon (Georgia) Telegraph and News of October 16, 1931, headlined Capone's stunning conviction in federal court. This edition carries a value of over $100.
New York Daily Mirror, February 14, 1935, Guilty Death For Hauptmann
The Lindbergh baby kidnapping horrified the country during the Depression-era 1930s. Bruno Hauptmann was later convicted of kidnapping and murdering Charles Augustus Lindbergh II, the 20-month-old son of aviators Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Hauptmann got the death penalty for his crime, dying in New Jersey's electric chair a.k.a. "Old Smokey" on April 3, 1936. The New York Daily Mirror of February 14, 1935, reported Hauptmann's conviction with the bold headline "Guilty Death for Hauptmann." This edition is valued at around $60 today.
New York Daily Mirror 1935 Lindbergh kidnapping conviction $60. Also pictured is the New York Journal, February 13, 1935 - Heritage Auctions
Literally hundreds of thousands of collectible newspapers await both the collector and history buff. It's all there in black and white – wars, assassinations, moon landings, crime and punishment, sports, medicine and you name it...
- The New York Times, May 8, 1915, the Lusitania sinking $100+ - The New York Times
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.